Swimming, Cycling and Running to Victory with Egypt’s First Ironwoman Khadiga Amin

Being an athlete is always going to be difficult, but for triathletes things are even more complicated, you don’t just have to excel at one discipline, you have to excel at three! Triathlete, Khadiga Amin, has taken this challenge in her stride, becoming Egypt’s first female to complete an Ironman in 2014 and going on to coach Egypt’s next generation of triathletes.

1) Triathlon is not a very common sport to get into, how did you end up becoming a triathlete?

Well, I completed my spinning certificate in 2011, and so for practice, I would train with Cairo cyclists. Through them, I met a couple triathletes. In 2012, I was in Abu Dhabi supporting a friend in her first triathlon, and I simply fell in love.

2) Before you got involved, what was the triathlon scene like in Egypt?

Basically non-existent. The Egyptian Triathlete Federation itself was only established five years ago. Personally, I never really heard much about it until 2012. Even now, it is an extremely new idea in Egypt both for women and men.

Photo courtesy of Khadiga Amin

3) What are some of the obstacles that you had to overcome to start training for triathlons in Egypt?

Running and swimming are generally accessible throughout Egypt, the biggest problem is cycling. We want to cycle outdoors, but we can only do it on Fridays and Saturdays due to traffic during the week, so simulating the cycling experience is a challenge.

4) What has been the response from family and friends?

My family is very supportive and so are my friends although they don’t completely understand why I do it!

“That feeling of crossing the finish line was indescribable; a once-in-a-lifetime kind of joy.”

5) What was the most exciting achievement in your career as a triathlete so far?

Definitely completing the Ironman. I knew I was going to be the first Egyptian Ironwoman in history, so that was my biggest motivation. That feeling of crossing the finish line was indescribable; a once-in-a-lifetime kind of joy.

6) How much did you have to train for Ironman?

Well, volume-wise I was training 12 hours plus a week, and for about three months, I was in Gouna to have more access to empty roads. I would basically, bike, run, bike, run, throughout the day.

The 8 athletes Khadiga coached for this year’s Barcelona Ironman. Photo courtesy: Khadiga Amin

7) Did you ever struggle to find suitable coaches?

I have never really had a coach, I only first hired a coach in November. I had to mainly develop my own technique using books and the internet. Except with swimming, in which I needed a coach because it’s a very technical sport.

8) Having completed the Ironman, have you reached your peak?

Definitely not! For me, my body has so much further to go. My peak seems like it will be in 3-5 years. My biggest dream would be to race as a pro, and also cut down my time.

“When you see that you’re helping someone achieve their goal and that you’re a part of that, it’s the product of a huge emotional investment.”

9) As a coach, how does it feel when a trainer beats their personal best or achieves their goals?

It’s infinitely rewarding, probably even more than getting personal achievements. When you see that you’re helping someone achieve their goal and that you’re a part of that, it’s the product of a huge emotional investment.

10) Do you think that there are obstacles for Egyptian women getting into sport, and how do we fix that?

I think that the biggest problem is lack of awareness, because I mean there are probably 100 women and even men sitting at home right now who want to start swimming or running or cycling but they don’t know where to start and they don’t know who to turn to, That’s the biggest problem, and that’s why I encourage anyone who might be willing to try or might want to give it a go to just start.

11) What gets people into triathlons?

Well, the major competitors in this sport start from the early thirties all the way up to the fifties, so there’s never any time that’s too late, and many people call it a mid-life crisis! It is so much more of a mental challenge than a physical one, which I think appeals to people, just that idea of bein able to wake up every day with a goal to achieve.

Photo courtesy: Khadiga Amin

With an amazing team of the athletes that Khadiga coached just completing the Barcelona Ironman, it seems like triathlon in Egypt is definitely on the rise. If you want to try it out, check out The TriFactory! Whether you are a complete beginner or not, they can help prepare you for the upcoming Sahl Hasheesh triathlon from November 16th-18th. They even have bikes that you can rent.

To sign up for training sessions from Khadiga check out Power Ride Sports. 

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